Archive July 2011
The fiery ruby is well represented in royal circles and is one of the most highly prized and sought-after gemstones. It is a stone that in ancient times was said to possess magical powers and was often worn as a talisman to protect the wearer from evil. The ruby is the red variety of corundum, whose other colors (particularly blue) are known as sapphire. It is the second hardest mineral following the diamond. Rubies can be found in a variety of hues, from orange-red to purple-hued red; however the most valuable rubies are true pigeon-blood red. Large rubies are rare (unlike sapphires) and quite valuable—in addition to being, quite simply, majestic.
The Belgians celebrate their National Day on 21 July, although why exactly that date, most of them do not know. It is, in fact, the day Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha officially became the first King of the newly-founded country, now exactly 180 years ago.
As you may have guessed from the flag, this is not about the famous railway station in London, nor about the equally famous story of Wallis Simpson hailing a taxi after a heated argument with Edward VIII. Tomorrow will be another National Day for Belgium without government – the second in row – and as usual, the King addressed the nation on the day before. A speech much anticipated by the political and royal-watching world, as it became increasingly obvious that the King was unhappy with the current situation. But the King isn’t just unhappy. This time there’s no mistake. The King’s cross.
George Henry Hubert Lascelles, seventh Earl of Harewood, died on 11 July 2011 at the age of 88. He was the eldest grandchild of George V and Queen Mary, and a first cousin of Elizabeth II. His parents were Henry Lascelles, the sixth Earl, and Mary, Princess Royal, daughter of George V. At his birth, he was sixth in line to the throne (at the time of his death, he had dropped to 46th).
Otto, Archduke and Imperial Prince of Austria, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, the last Crown Prince of the immense Austro-Hungarian Empire before its fall, died on 4 July 2011. He peacefully passed away at his residence, Villa Austria, in Pöcking (Bavaria), surrounded by his seven children; he was 98 years old.
On July 1 and 2, the tiny principality of Monaco became the center of the royal-watching world. Prince Albert II of Monaco married his long-time girlfriend Charlene Wittstock, who is now Princess Charlene of Monaco. But while the principality at the Mediterranean coast basked in glamour and sunshine, dark clouds and rumours cast their shadow on the festivities.
This year marked one of the biggest occasions in British history in over 30 years. Prince William announced back in November of 2010 that he would marry his long time girlfriend Catherine Middleton. For the royal family this secured the line of succession and signaled the beginning of 6 months of endless media coverage. But with this engagement, the media dug up the memory of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and dragged the question of her death back into the spotlight.